Page:Atlantis Arisen.djvu/39

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
31
ABOUT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA.

Inside the base of the cape, we find ourselves in a pretty little harbor, called Baker's Bay from its discoverer, with an island or two in it, and surrounded by sloping shores, originally densely covered with a growth of spruce, fir, and hemlock, with many varieties of lesser trees and shrubs. Along the strip of low land, crescent-shaped and edged with a sandy beach, are the recently abandoned quarters of the garrison of Fort Canby, for the cape was fortified during the civil war—when our government had some distrust of the friendliness of the English and French powers, and some fears of Confederate cruisers—with several powerful batteries.

There is also a light-house at the point of the cape, in which a first-class Fresnel light is kept, tended by the resident of a modest mansion under the shelter of the hill, and we are tempted to take the path winding around and about up to the top of the promontory. What fine trees! What a luxuriant undergrowth!

Sauntering, pulling ferns and wild vines, exclaiming at the shadows, the coolness, the magnificence of the forests, we come at last to the summit, and emerge into open ground. Here all is military precision and neatness: gravelled walks, grassy slopes and terraces, whitened walls. When we have done with the contemplation of guns and earthworks, we turn eagerly to gaze at the sea; to watch the restless surf dashing itself against the bar; to catch that wonderful monotone—"ever, forever."

The fascination of looking and listening would keep me long spellbound; but our escort, who understands the symptoms, politely compels us "to move on," and directly—very opportunely—we are confronted with the light-house keeper, who offers to show us his tower and light. Clambering up and up, at last we stand within the great lantern, with its intense reflections, and hear all about the life of its keeper,—how he scours and polishes by day, and tends the burning oil by night. When we ask him if the storm-winds do not threaten his tower, he shakes his head and smiles, and says it is an eerie place up there when the sou'westers are blowing. But, somehow, he likes it; he would not like to leave his place for another. Then we climb a little higher, going out upon the iron balcony, where the keeper stands to do his outside polishing of the